Victorian paintball has gone through a number of changes in the last 20 or so years. It all started with pump action paintball markers out in the bush and we are now at the point where we are playing on the same layouts as teams on the other side of the world with paintball markers capable of 20+ paintballs per second.
For the last 5 years however the rules and formats of paintball have consolidated leading to a period of stability in the sport from a competition point of view. Sadly during this period the amount of people competing in paintball tournaments in a regular basis in Vic has dropped significantly.
It peaked in around 2012 when 28 teams participated in PAVs – now called Vic 5s hosted by Snipers Den Paintball Melbourne. Last round of Vic 5s we had 12 teams total. And this was the equal max for the season. So it is evident that there are issues recruiting new players, holding onto existing players or perhaps a little of both. After chatting to players, field owners and other event organisers and a few trends seem to keep coming up.
The legal age for paintball in Victoria is 18 and over. Obviously most sports do not have an age restriction and this forms a big part of how they recruit players. When look at organisations such as Auskick for AFL football it is evident that this has a big part in recruiting players to the sport and fostering long term retention of the players.
The legislation is looking like it will change the paintball age limit to 16+ in early 2015. Hopefully this will help but we will still be chasing our tails unless it lowers a little further. Assuming the age limit lowers it will also depend on how the legislation is enforced from the perspective of paintball licenses. The best guess currently is that people under the age of 18 will not be able to hold a paintball license. This is only based on the implementation of other firearm categories and hopefully is a little more lenient than that but we will need to see how it occurs.
Once we do have under 18’s around the sport players will need to make adjustments also. As a sport that has been restricted to 18+ for a long long time it may require adjustments to the culture and appropriate language. If paintball in Melbourne to be taken seriously as a sport we need to represent ourselves as such. Younger players are going to bring parents and families and this influx of paintball players could easily dry up if we scare off the new source of paintball competitors.
Conclusion: Lowering of the age limit will be a great boost to tournament paintball but we need to be careful to represent our sport professionally when this happens.
For more read on to part 2 here….